Thursday, August 2, 2012

'Old Fashioned' Cherry Pie

In Wisconsin, there are two sides to take.  You either want to recall Walker, or not. Just kidding, this isn't a political blog, I'm not gonna go anywhere near that mess.  This media is about something much more important, not to mention a topic everyone can agree upon- good food and drink, necessities to life.  The two opinions I speak of are how you, when in the great state of Wisconsin, prefer your Old Fashioneds- sweet, or not.  

Most Wisconsinites I know order (or make) theirs sweet, and always with brandy.  Korbel, to be specific.  Muddled with an orange slice, to be exact.  Some of them even know which bartender at the Club mixes them better than others.  Going beyond sweet or not, there are many other variations on the 6:00PM on a Friday at the supper club favorite.  I prefer mine with bourbon over brandy, which, along with the orange and cherry flavors in a standard Old Fashioned, make one hell of a delicious cherry pie.

I don't bake too many pies, but I finally have a kitchen windowsill to put a cooling freshly-baked cherry pie on. With Team USA competing in the Olympic games in the background, that's a sweet piece of Americana.  I'll work on the 1.5 more kid and the white picket fence thing for the complete Norman Rockwell painting.  

This recipe calls for canned cherries, but if you want to acquire fresh cherries at your local farmers market and stem and pit them, please do so.  The weather in 2012 has not been so kind for that sort of thing, the fruit crop from the farms in Michigan have suffered just as much as the corn crop from the farms in Iowa.

I show instructions to make a simple pie dough, or pate brisee, but you could also use a store-bought dough if you wish.

'Old Fashioned' Cherry Pie

for the dough-
enough for one 9" pie shell and top

12 oz AP (yes, always weigh) flour
8 oz butter, diced and very cold (as in, stash cut up in a small bowl in the freeze for twenty)
2-4 oz ice water
1/2 ts kosher salt

Combine the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl by rubbing the butter between your fingers, until you have pea sizes chunks of butter and smaller beads. The mixture should resemble coarse meal. Add 2 oz of ice water and the salt, mix gently until just combined. You might need 1-2 more oz. ice water, just use enough until the dough comes together without working it too hard.

You can also use your food processor to combine the dough.  Add the salt and then the water gradually, while pulsing quickly just until it looks like coarse meal.

Split the dough in halves, you can weigh or eyeball this. Shape into 1/2" discs and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes before rolling out.

for the pie-
2 14.5 oz cans tart pitted pie cherries, drained well
3/4 C white sugar
1/4 C bourbon
3 TB cornstarch
2 TB freshly squeezed OJ
1 TB orange zest
1 TB unsalted butter

Your dough should be made and parked in the fridge for 20-30 minutes before firing up the oven to 350F.

Roll out the first pie dough into something that resembles a 10" circle, and using your rolling pin for assistance, lay gently into a 9" pie plate.  Place onto a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil, for easy clean up.  Crimp the edges as decoratively as you wish, trimming any excess.

Combine the cherries, sugar, bourbon, cornstarch, OJ and zest in a mixing bowl.  Mix well with a spatula to get everything liking each other, without beating up the fruit too much.  Once mixed, pour into your pie crust.  Roll out the other piece of dough, gently placing on top, again use your rolling pin for an assist.  Trim any excess you might have, then use a knife or a fork to create some vents in the dough- six stabs with a fork evenly spaced, or four half-inch slits with a paring knife should do it.  Pat the top (and especially edges) with a bit of butter, to enhance browning.

Cooking time will be about 70-80 minutes, until lightly browned and every room in your house, even the closets, smell like delicious cherry pie.  You will probably have some juices bubbling out of the crust, and that's okay...hence the foil-lined sheet pan for easy clean up.  

DO NOT cut into this bad boy for at LEAST two hours....or you'll have a runny mess on your hands.  Like Tim Berry always says about a fresh ice sheet, LET IT SET UP!  I recommend serving with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and then devour while you watch Team USA go for the gold.   But any way you slice it, it's a delicious piece of Wisconsin-cocktail-time-dessert. 

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